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You’ve done all your preparation. You’ve checked out the venue. And it's now time to deliver your presentation!
The old adage is still true that ‘people buy people.’ If you can positively influence your audience and win them over, then they will buy you and your message, product or concept – even if you have to deliver a negative message or bad news.
So how can you best deliver your presentation? Here are some guidelines to consider.
Become mindful of the communication messages you are sending. As first impressions are lasting, you have 5 to 10 seconds to make a good first impression! Those first impressions are usually based on a number of factors. Consider your attire. Is it formal or informal, as appropriate for the presentation and audience? Your stance should convey confidence by standing alone in the middle of the room. Keep your gestures open and welcoming. If you need to shake hands, use a firm, dry, warm handshake.
After you’ve given your grab opening, introduce yourself. Give your first name and surname, title and company. Interestingly, did you notice that this is the first time we’ve mentioned what you say when creating a first impression? First impressions are based on so much more than what you say!
This helps to build trust with your audience.
Now, as strange as it sounds, you may need to practice your smile! Most of us only smile when we hear something funny. Being able to smile on demand as a reassuring gesture is a very powerful communication action to your audience. When smiling, tilt your head to the right, as this gesture shows a willingness on your part to adopt a more vulnerable position, and it makes you appear more trustworthy.
Eye contact also plays a role when cultivating trust. If we don’t trust the speaker, we’re not going to listen to their words. Gentle eye contact of 2 to 3 seconds on your part increases trustworthiness and encourages future cooperation. If an audience member unnerves you and you feel you cannot make direct eye contact, give them ‘face’ contact instead and look at them between the eyebrows. This will serve to relax you in their company until you feel you are confident or relaxed enough to make direct eye contact.
However, if your audience sees the slightest trace of fear or uncertainty on your face, an instant disconnect is created. Then the trust you have built up is rapidly reduced! You can’t fake trustworthiness, because the muscles around your mouth and eyes that reflect contentment and sincerity are involuntary.
As an exercise, look in a mirror and think about someone you love, or an event that brought you deep joy and satisfaction. An involuntary ‘Mona Lisa’ type smile will appear on your face and the muscles around your eyes will then soften.
Researchers at the University of Amsterdam found that in a business presentation, a warm supportive voice is a sign of leadership. It generates more satisfaction, commitment, and buy-in to your message from the various members of your audience.
So, be very mindful of the impact that your voice can have. A simple variation in tone can alter the intended meaning. Your tone of voice can also be a very accurate indicator of your personality.
Take a simple word such as ‘Hello’. You are going to use differing tones when greeting different people. Someone you like will receive a high-pitched cheerful greeting. And someone you despise will hear the word ‘Hello’ as a barely audible grunt. You can affect the meaning of that single word by just changing your tone! Also think of how you say the word ‘Yes’ in different situations. Your tone gives away how genuinely willing you are to agree.
Did you know that body language makes up the majority of your interpersonal communications? Next comes the sound of your voice and finally the words themselves.
Keeping in mind the importance of body language, you need to be aware of the signals that you are sending while delivering a presentation. Gestures can be very deceiving when compared to the actual message you think you are sending. For example, suppose you are using nervous body language, such as fidgeting or swinging a foot. This unsettles or even irritates your audience. It also damages your credibility and distracts from your message.
Using positive self-assured body language, such as varying where you stand in the room, has the opposite effect. It enhances your message, adds authority, and encourages participation. It also increases drama and humor, and ultimately makes your presentation more enjoyable for everyone.
It is equally important to recognize the signals you are receiving from the body language of the audience. A group of people sitting completely still are listening to you in somewhat of a mini-trance state. When they start to fidget, you have just said something that has caused them to ‘disconnect’ from their trance. Think back to what it was that you said to cause this disconnect. Then pause, and go back to address that point in a more positive way before moving on with your presentation.
You need to engage your audience throughout the presentation. If using PowerPoint, turn your PowerPoint on and off at intervals. By pressing the ‘B’ button the screen will go blank. Depressing any keyboard button turns the presentation back on. When you blank your presentation, all eyes will turn towards you. When you turn PowerPoint back on, all eyes will move away from you.
In addition, move away from the screen or podium at times.
And, when you display an image or text, wait a second or two, to allow the audience to read it and turn their attention back towards you. After you do this a couple of times, the audience will become ‘conditioned’ to respond in this way, which will in turn increase the impact of information transfer and speed up the presentation.Back to Top
Kevin Reid is CEO of Personal Skills Training, Senior Coach at Kevin J Reid Coaching, Co-founder and Communications Director of The Counsel.ie, and Lead Collaborator of LeitrimMade.com.
In this module, Kevin is the instructor for the ‘Enhancing Your Problem-Solving Skills’ and ‘Improving Your Presentation Skills’ lessons.
Cathal Melinn is Digital Marketing Manager at Digital Marketing Institute.
In this module, Cathal is the instructor for the ‘Enhancing Your Creativity’ lesson.
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ABOUT THIS DIGITAL MARKETING MODULE
Creative skills aren’t just for artists and designers! Everyone can learn to be more creative. In fact, the ability to think creatively is an invaluable skill in today’s workplace.
In this module, you will learn how to enhance your creative thinking skills – which should help you generate new ideas, find innovative solutions to problems, and develop new products and services. You will also learn how to remove barriers to creativity and the importance of persevering when your ideas fail.
When it comes to tackling specific workplace difficulties, you will be introduced to a six-step method you can use to solve problems. And you’ll learn about the skills you need to cultivate in order to be an effective problem-solver.
You will also turn your creative attention to the art of giving presentations. You will discover how to create and structure an effective presentation, and the preparations you need to make in advance, as well as useful tips on how to deliver an engaging presentation and how to hold a Q&A session at the end.